Ben Helphand has a more than 20 year career focusing on mechanisms for communities to have a direct hand in the creation and stewardship of the built environment. Helphand is the Executive Director of NeighborSpace, a nonprofit urban land trust dedicated to preserving and sustaining community managed open spaces in Chicago. NeighborSpace shoulders the responsibility of property ownership for a network of flower, vegetable and prairie gardens across the City, so that community groups can focus on gardening and community building. Helphand came to the organization in 2007 and has grown it from 52 to 122 protected community spaces. In that time he expanded the scope of the land trust to include emerging interest in urban agriculture and nature play. Helphand is also the co-founder and president of the Friends of the Bloomingdale Trail (FBT), an all-volunteer, community-based organization that since 2002 advocated for the conversion of the under-used Bloomingdale rail embankment. Now as the official Park Advisory Council for the Bloomingdale Trail, FBT serves as its long-term community stewards. Helphand has also served as a board member of the Active Transportation Alliance, the Mayor's Pedestrian Advisory Committee, in 2012 was awarded a Chicago Community Trust Emerging Leader Fellowship, and was part of Next City's 2018 Vanguard class. In 2019 Helphand was Appointed to the Board of the Chicago Community Land Trust. Originally from Oregon, Helphand came to Chicago to pursue a degree in the history of religion from the University of Chicago and then went on to Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.
View Speaker Sessions
- C04. Urban Land Trusts, Shared Stewardship and Community Resilience
October 06, 2021
12:30 PM - 2:00 PM